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'What now?', Sanderson asks his players

Harry Thring  March 13, 2013 1:30 PM

AFL 2012 1st Preliminary Final - Hawthorn v Adelaide

Adelaide leaves the field after last year's preliminary final loss

I'll say it again, don't worry, because we're ready and we are hungry
TAYLOR Walker has emerged, Patrick Dangerfield is an All Australian, Sam Jacobs is one of the League's top ruckmen and Daniel Talia the NAB AFL Rising Star; Adelaide isn't surprising anyone in 2013.

Nobody predicted the Crows would prove a genuine premiership threat in 2012 after slumping to 14th on the ladder the year before, but coach Brenton Sanderson admitted his side faces huge expectations in 2013.

After they missed out on a Grand Final berth last season by less than a kick, the criteria to judge an improved season from the Crows are simple, if not daunting.

They must play off in the Grand Final.

It's a huge ask, but Sanderson insists it's within reach.

"In this industry, you just can't look back too far, you can't drown yourself in the memories of the past," an impassioned Sanderson told a crowded Westpac Centre at the club's season launch on Tuesday night.

"Graham Johncock, with three minutes 30 to go kicked a goal on the run which put us in front in a prelim final.

"Unfortunately we weren't good enough last year … the question I used the most last season to our boys was, 'what now?'

"There's expectation now. There's expectation externally, but more importantly there's expectation internally.

"I'll say it again, don't worry, because we're ready and we are hungry."

While some have expressed fear the pre-season loss of forward Kurt Tippett would impact the club more than it was willing to admit, Sanderson maintained the strength of his side lay in its mental strength.

It didn't rely on his pre-match addresses to ready itself for a big game, nor did it require an angry outburst at half-time to respond after a slow start; everything the players needed to succeed, Sanderson said, came from within.

"The players drive the hunger within this group, I very rarely raise my voice … the energy and excitement in this group is player driven," he said.

"These boys will play hard, they'll play tough and they'll play aggressive for you … I think we might be good enough."

The coach who is entering his second season in charge of Adelaide, ended his speech with a few tantalising comparisons for the club's fans.

"If you like the NFL, American football, you'll know the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl this year and their logo is almost identical to ours – the raven is part of the Crows' family," he said.

"This is the hottest summer Adelaide's had since the '97/'98 summer – it's a fact. You know where I'm going with that don't you?"

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry .